Its long been the case that qualified teachers all around Ireland are struggling to secure full-time, permanent employment in Ireland. You try looking for a full-time job as a teacher in Donegal, Roscommon or Fermanagh where the local school might have a patronage of under one hundred children and the four teachers have been there since the children’s parents were there back in the 70’s.
It is not easy, and the only alternative is to take a job in Dublin when you need to supplement your wages to pay for a room in a house that has no parking, which is not such an issue perhaps, as you can’t afford a car anyway!
The good news is, many of these fantastically qualified teachers are tiring of the inconsistency in their hours and tired commuting to cover a maternity leave in Ballywherever so they take flight to foreign soil and land over here in Doha, Qatar.
What a fabulous sight it is for us to see a lovely young Irish teacher arriving to our school in Qatar, a plethora of Irish dancing medals under his belt, a handy way with a hurl and sliotar and of course an expert in the cupla focail what more could you ask for in a teacher.
When my Ciaran was born here in Doha in 2011, I didn’t worry about education or nationalities or culture. The plan was his first steps would be on Irish soil, so there was no need to worry. However the best laid plans change and nearly 9 years later Ciaran is still here and very lucky for me that year on year he’s had an Irish teacher. Ok from time to time they have been Scottish but that’s close enough.
In the beginning I lunged towards any Irish child I noticed in school or at activities. Over zealously I arranged play dates with any Irish person I saw. I swapped numbers with their moms and told my Ciaran that certainly Caoimhe and Aoibhinn were ideal friends, despite being girls, two years younger and fans of jojo bows and lol dolls, they were Irish and I had seen them sporting the county jersey on non-uniform day. I thought they had to be a better fit more so than boys of the same age from Egypt or Jordan or Iraq.
It is nothing short of terrifying raising a third culture kid, who not only has a different culture to your own but a culture you are not even familiar with. It’s the downside of living abroad, the reality that your children may grow up never knowing what it feels like to happily stand in the cold on the side-line at a club-final match or know how to respond to the question Cen chaoi a bhfuil tu? or know the feeling of wet grass under their grass, smell of a turf fire, taste of new spuds, bla bla ba you get the picture.
The upshot being that when Cathal Fleming from Tulsk Roscommon, arrived in Doha, Qatar to teach at Park House English School I couldn’t have been happier. A name similarly as difficult to pronounce and inherently Irish as Ciaran, I was sure that Cathal would become an instant role model for my Ciaran. When Cathal announced his new club, games and activities with a touch of Irish maybe even as Gaeilge, I could have danced for joy and of course, old habits, I enthusiastically put Ciaran’s names down on the list.
Here was another opportunity to grasp at our dwindling culture, it was possible could be plucked from the international jaws and saved, Ciaran would learn all about Ireland and Irish things from Cathal. It would work a dream. I broke the great news to Ciaran and stood back waiting for the reaction.
Not impressed basically. He had made plans to join a different club. Apparently, Walk as if an Egyptian was more interesting, and as his friends Mostafa and Ahmed were going, I tried to sell the Irish club but it didn’t appeal, was my dream of an Irish boy lost, missing forever inside an international one?